WEEK TWO: Sacraments (Celebrating the Christian Mystery)
DAY 5: Because It’s the Right Thing to Do (The Sacraments at the Service of Communion)
I once took a group of high school youth to visit Fr. Larry Craig, who was the chaplain at Cook County Jail in Chicago. Fr. Larry was a pretty tough cookie with a chiseled face like Clint Eastwood and a husky voice like Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). One of the kids asked him how many prisoners’ lives he had “turned around.” He said, “Let’s see…I been doin’ this thing for 15 years…about 5000 inmates….I’d say 6. Next question.”
I just had to interrupt. “Excuse me, Father…15 years, 5000 inmates, and you feel you’ve turned around 6 lives? Sorry, but I have to ask, what keeps you motivated with a ‘success rate’ like that?”
He looked at me and said, “I do it because it’s the right thing to do. Jesus said, ‘When I was in prison, you visited me.’ He didn’t say, ‘when I was in high school, you took me on a ski trip.’ Next question.”
Wow. That story has inspired me many times, especially when I find myself thinking that I deserve recognition for something that I’ve accomplished. Sure it’s nice to receive recognition for certain achievements. It’s very affirming. However, there are some things that we are called to do for which we will not receive recognition. We do them because they are the right thing to do. For Christians, the call to be of service to others is something we do, not for recognition, but out of a sense of loving obligation to one another – it is the right thing to do. When we serve others, we renounce ourselves and put the needs of others first.
The Catholic faith challenges us to live in such a way that we place the needs of others before our own needs. Beginning with baptism, we commit ourselves to live as members of the Body of Christ. We are at the service of the community. This commitment to the service of the community is further signified by the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders. These vocations reveal to us the selfless love that all of the baptized are called to share. For this reason, the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders are referred to as the Sacraments at the Service of Communion – they remind us that “it’s not about me!” In a society and culture that promote the importance of the individual, the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony challenge us to put the needs of others first – because it’s the right thing to do.
Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.
- Who has been a “Fr. Larry Craig” in your life – someone who has selflessly served the needs of others without any or very little recognition?
- What is something that you do, day in and day out, simply because it’s the right thing to do?
- How do the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders remind us that “it’s not about me?”
- During the Year of Faith, what will you commit to (re-commit to) that is an expression of selfless love and putting the needs of others first?
- Whose marriage is a powerful sign to you of selfless love and service?
- Whose priesthood is a powerful sign to you of selfless love and service?
Lord, Jesus, you taught us, not to serve ourselves, but to serve God and others. Grant me the grace I need to be of service to others. Help me to put my own needs aside and to focus on the needs of others. Bless our Church, Lord, with good priests and healthy marriages, so that, together, we may build up the community of faith and bring praise to your name. Amen.
- On the Camino: Three Friends
- The Blessing of Married Couples
- Feeling Good Together
- Washing Feet
- Becoming a Priest
- Jesus Our Priest
CCC References: 1533 – 1666
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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Learn more about the Year of Faith. Watch a brief video explaining what this online retreat is all about.
The parish that I belong too has many selfless people who serve others regardless of their own needs or whether anyone criticizes them. I surround myself with people like this that give me strength to continue in my own service. It is very easy to become dissatisfied when you feel you aren’t being effective but in the long run your generosity pays off when you see the positive results from your actions.
I find it’s the daily chores of picking up around the house, doing dishes, cleaning the toilet (yuck) that some people think get done by themselves! Many Moms will thank their spouses or children for doing the dishes but rarely does anyone thank Mom for the very same chore done over and over again. But we realize that some things are part and parcel of the job…maybe not those examples in particular… but some very necessary thing that you will do continually that will go unrecognized. These are the services we do with love to meet the needs of others.
I agree wholeheartedly with you Janetann. We do many of our motherly duties out of selfless love for our family and many times the chores or cleaning that we do may go unnoticed. However, God sees all things and knows the deep love I have for my children and husband.
Our parish has merged with a neighboring parish although a bridge and a few miles separates our geographical location. We have one assigned priest, our pastor. Our retired pastor is in residence – he still takes on a full schedule of Sunday & daily Masses, Funerals, Wake Services, Baptisms & Weddings, visiting the sick & home-bound, etc., to assist in any way he can. To me he is a powerful sign of selfless love & service.
The Pastor of my Church is a powerful sign of selfless love and service to me.
This ia a priest who devotes his life to serving everyone. He has taken the last few dollars he had to help a family who were living in a car.
He never puts himself first. He once gave up his much needed break in a very busy day to help me. A man in my company died with no one. we didn’t know what Religion he was. I asked father to please come and bless him and pray for his soul for me. I couldn’t think about him being buried without
a Blessing and prayer. Father on his own time came and Prayed with me and blessed the man. He always takes time to be there for whatever anyone needs. When you have a meeting with him you have his undivided attention. No matter how busy he is.
We are so Blessed to have him. When he dies Jesus will be there to welcome him with open arms. Jesus will say to him “Well done good and faithful servant.”
The Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy orders are of service to others each one now devotes his/her life to one another, just as husband and wife, the priest now devotes his life to the church (people).
My pastor is easily a sign to me of Jesus’ selfless love and service. He never ever wishes to be recognized for what he does for others. Now that I have this position in the church, I see so much more of what he does and gives to others and I am always amazed at how much one man can do for others. He has 4 churches to manage by himself and 2 nursing homes to minister to yet he manages to offer classes for our catechists and makes time for our youth. I always tell the children I teach to watch him at any large gathering. Never ever will he let anyone serve him. He serves others and sits last. At the end, he doesn’t let anyone clean up after him. He picks up after himself and goes around and picks up everyone else’s plates. I love having a living example like this in our community. Our children need more role models like this to help them understand the Sacraments at the Service of Communion.
My mother is once again a person in my life who gives to others without looking to be recognized. She works for the church and will neverr call in sick because she can’t let anyone down will drive someone somewhere if they don’t have a ride, she will give all she has, get up early on Sunday to bring communion to the sick, volunteer to help in any way she can. I thank her for giving me these values. She never asks for a thank you she is a true exam,e of a faithful catholic.
Whose marriage is a powerful sign to you of selfless love and service?
My grandparents strengthened my faith immensely. They shared so much love that I never thought was possible. They always cared about others before taking care of themselves. To me, they lived a very faithful marriage.
It was the right thing to do .. “Jesus said, ‘When I was in prison, you visited me.’ He didn’t say, ‘when I was in high school, you took me on a ski trip.’ Next question.” This reminded me of what I read before in Jerry Goebel’s book. We all know about the WWJD phrase – what would Jesus do? – he proposed that it is important to also answer the question – WWJG?- where would Jesus go? To visit those in prison. Fr. Craig is living it in a powerful way, committed to ministry in our prisons. It challenges me as I work with teens to think about where would Jesus want us to go when we a planning our year’s ministry.
One of my Grammar School/High School buddies is my “Fr. Larry Craig.” His name is Tom and he and his wife were unable to conceive children so they became foster parents to 4 children, all from the same family. These children were from a very fractured home… They took in all 4 children so they wouldn’t be split apart and torn even more.
Tom and Jean eventually adopted all 4 children! Then the children’s biological mother had a 5th child by another father, and that child was put into the foster care system. Tom and Jean welcomed that child into their home, too, and eventually adopted her, too.
Tom is also a public defender, helping to represent the poor in the criminal court system so that they get a fair trial. He and Jean are fantastic parents and awesome examples of selfless giving and service in their marriage.